Today@Sam - SHSU Campus News Online Sam Houston State University Seal
In the News
SHSU Homepage

SHSU Experts
SHSU Stats
Sam the Man
SHSU History
Austin Hall

Heritage Magazine
Huntsville Item
The Houstonian
Gov. Links
Useful Links
Theater & Dance
SHSU Athletics
Rec. Sports
Request Info
General Info
Then & Now
The President
Public Relations
Post Office
Search SHSU

Collaborative Book Authors to Appear at SHSU

See also, Schedule of Sessions/Open to All

For those who savor the art of storytelling, Sam Houston State University will provide a literary feast on Oct. 11.

On that day seven contributors to Noah's Ride, a collaborative western novel published by TCU Press, will be on campus to meet students in small workshops and appear at an evening program open to the public.

Noah's Ride was written by 13 accomplished Texas authors, one chapter apiece.

The evening session, at 7:30 in Room 105 in the Evans Complex, will include readings by three of the authors and a panel discussion of how journalists as well as writers of various genres of fiction combined talents to produce a cogent narrative. The event is sponsored by the university's mass communication and English departments.

"We're delighted these professional writers are taking their time to come share their diverse talents with us," said Janet Bridges, chairman of mass communication.   "Further, we in mass comm and the English departments are pleased to share this evening with members of our community. Anyone familiar with these authors knows the program will be as entertaining as it is enlightening."  

"We are excited about this opportunity for our students, especially that they will get to meet with the writers personally," said Bill Bridges, English program chairperson. 

Mike Blackman
Miike Blackman
One of the authors is Mike Blackman, who shares the Philip G. Warner Chair in Journalism at Sam Houston State. Blackman worked for 33 years as a reporter and editor in Philadelphia, Fort Worth and New York before taking the Warner Chair position at the start of the 2005 academic year.

"Writing novels piecemeal, collaboratively, can certainly tax one's nimbleness," said Blackman. "I found it pretty easy, really, akin to pulling teeth with tweezers."

The editor who had to deal with all the pieces and yearn for a seamless narrative -- was Judy Alter, director of TCU Press.    

"Noah's Ride is just good storytelling," said Alter, an author of numerous books who also contributed a chapter.  "I think the evening discussion will provide an engaging window to the creative process from some of our state's more inventive writers."

She summarized the book's unfolding:  

Throwing superstition to the winds, TCU Press gathered 13 well-known Texas authors and asked them to contribute to Noah's Ride, which starts with a chapter by novelist Elmer Kelton, features Noah, a plantation slave who escapes and makes his way to the Union forces and, finally, Texas, where he establishes a small ranch, runs a few cattle, and, with wife Nelly, begins to raise a family. But Noah, who has taken the name Freeman and named his ranch Free Land, cannot leave his past behind. The slave catcher Quint Carpenter is the local sheriff, and, after Noah's sister kills Quint's younger son, he's out for blood--specifically Noah's blood.   And carpetbagger Bear Coltrain, who once wanted to kidnap Noah and sell him back into slavery, now wants Noah's land. Then John Malone comes along--Noah once saved the former cavalry officer's life, and he wants to repay his debt. Can he help when someone kidnaps Noah's baby girl? Can he help save the ranch--and, finally, save Noah's life? Along the way we meet Mary Mills, who rescues the baby she finds by a creek in West Texas; Durwood and Doodad Buck, local characters in San Angela, and Lt. Thomas Blaine Gibson, who falls in love with the baby, and a host of other minor characters.

"Putting together a collaborative novel is both exciting and scary," said Alter.   "An author can't begin his or her chapter--or even think much about it--until all the preceding chapters are written. And from an editorial point of view, you never know where the next chapter will take you."

Alter complimented all 13 contributors on the way they built on earlier chapters and left something for future writers to build on. "Thirteen rich and creative imaginations have worked together to create a novel that, while true to nineteenth-century history, has not only brutality, sadness, violence but also love, laughter, and an optimistic outlook," she said.

Contemporary collaborative novels trace back to Naked Came the Stranger that appeared in the 1970s with an eye-catching risqué cover. A series of take-offs followed.   These multi-author works were set in the suburbs, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Florida and   the American West, and today there are collaborative novel sites on the web, inviting any and all to contribute. But Noah's Ride combines the talents of professional Texas authors and offers, in published book form, an old-fashioned western novel - set in Texas.

Jeff Guinn, author of The Autobiography of Santa Claus, How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, and The Search for Santa, says, "I never thought even Texas was big enough to have this many great authors come together on one book, but it surprised me, and the quality of this book will surprise you."

Author/editor Glenn Dromgoole, who produces a weekly column about Texas authors and their books, writes, "I'm betting this will be one of the must-read Texas books of the year, a great one for reading groups and community reading programs."

The Fort Worth Weekly, in its Best of Fort Worth guide, said:

"A book written by a baker's dozen of Texas authors, each responsible for one chapter, ought to wind up on a worst, not best, list. But these collaborators ...   have turned in a rollicking good page-turner, following the adventures of a runaway slave in Mississippi at the end of the Civil War. Noah, a slave with no last name, tries to stay one step ahead of one of the meanest-drawn characters in fiction, slave catcher Quint, with a "milky eye." Each author's job is to further the story where his/her predecessor ends a chapter -- and keep the suspense alive as they do it.... Not only is the tale a good one, it is obvious from the writing that these wordsmiths were having a helluva good time."

The contributors (asterisks denote those participating in the Sam Houston program) are as follows.

Phyllis Allen is a short story writer and essayist who in 2005 won a national competition to have some of her work featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

*Judy Alter is director of TCU Press, author, and 2005 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement from Western Writers of America, Inc.

*Mike Blackman is the former executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and currently holder of the Warner Chair at Sam Houston State University where he teaches reporting, feature writing, and editing.

*Mike Cochran is a longtime, award-winning reporter for The Associated Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, whose books include Texas v. Davis.

*Carole Nelson Douglas, a former newspaper reporter and editor, is the author of 50 novels and has won or been short-listed for more than 50 writing awards. She writes the Midnight Louie feline PI contemporary mystery series set in Las Vegas and the Irene Adler Sherlockian historical suspense novels.

*Jeff Guinn is the former book editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and author of 10 books, including Our Land Before We Die.   He is the nonfiction winner of the 2003 TCU Texas Book Award, and The Autobiography of Santa Claus, a national best-selling novel.

Mary Dittoe Kelly is the winner of the Star-Telegram "You Be the Author" competition and Religious Education Coordinator at Good Shepherd Catholic Community.

Elmer Kelton is currently America's best-selling author of western American fiction. His works include The Time It Never Rained and the Hewey Calloway trilogy: Two Bits a Day, The Good Old Boys, and The Smiling Country. Kelton has been recognized for lifetime achievement by the Western Writers of America, Inc., the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Western Literature Association.

James Ward Lee is the author of Texas, My Texas, Adventures With a Texas Humanist, and co-editor of Literary Fort Worth.

James Reasoner is a professional author of over 180 novels, including westerns, crime fiction, private eye novels, and other genres.

*Mary Rogers is an award-winning features writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

*Carlton Stowers has twice won the Edgar Award for true crime writing from the Mystery Writers of America. His newest title is When Dreams Die Hard: A Small Town and Its Six-Man Football Team.

Jane Roberts Wood is the author of numerous novels, including the classic Train to Estelline.

TCU Press books are available in bookstores or may be ordered from 1.800.826.8911.  The Barnes and Noble University Bookstore will have copies of Noah's Ride for sale ($19.95) at the evening program, after which authors will be available for signings. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Goodfellows' Fund, a Christmas charity for children.


SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Oct. 3, 2006
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to

This page maintained by SHSU's Office of Public Relations
Director: Frank Krystyniak
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
Located in the 115 Administration Building
Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834